THE STORY BE­HIND

go! Platteland - - ‘I MADE THE MOVE’ -

is ded­i­cated to all the grannies and young girls of the Kalahari, says Betta, be­cause in days gone by Bush­men girls hav­ing their first pe­riod would un­dergo a rit­ual that sounds weird, even up­set­ting, to many mod­ern peo­ple.

Back then, a small cage was built in which the girl would be locked up and where she’d eat and sleep for about a month. She’d have no con­tact with men or other women – only the grand­moth­ers would visit the cage to tell her ev­ery­thing about wom­an­hood and cook­ing.

“Dur­ing the day, the would teach her about the food of the veld, the berries and the roots, the pips of the tsamma melon, how to roast [made from the roots of the or shep­herd’s tree] and how to clean around the fire. That says when you’re bleed­ing, you can’t pre­pare food be­cause peo­ple will blow up. She says the blood is se­cret; young men mustn’t know about it,” is how the nar­ra­tor in the play puts it.

The grannies would also mix goat ma­nure and cream, with which they’d scrub the girl from head to toe be­fore a mix­ture of ren­dered fat and crushed red stone was rubbed into Hok: her skin. The girl would be re­leased at a big party hosted in her honour, with feast­ing and danc­ing to al­lay any “(bad luck).

Tan­nie Lys be­lieves that it’s be­cause mod­ern Bush­men girls no longer un­dergo this rit­ual that there are so many teenage preg­nan­cies. “They have no re­spect for them­selves or their bod­ies,” is her the­ory.

At the re­hearsal of On the left is the quiet Shariva Brow and on the chair Sussie Bock, who plays the role of the nar­ra­tor. Be­hind them on the stage is the cage made of laths of wood.

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